Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Font Geeks Unite!

You can't judge a book by its cover - or can you?  If you're a font geek, you can surely try!

I love fonts!  I have ever since I didn't even know what a font was.  I remember watching "Matinee at the Bijou" on PBS when I was 12 or 13 and LOVING the font they used for the titles (I believe it was some sort of  "Broadway-esque" font - now they use a diner-like Harlow type).  Because I was such a huge reader of magazines even then, I got pretty good at deciphering what the ads where trying to convey just by looking at the type.  The business-y ads in the National Geographic had a far more serious look than the Handi-Wipes ad in the Ladies' Home Journal.

Doesn't it seem like each decade has its own font style, too?  For example, the aforementioned Broadway font has a 30s look to it.  The Forties seemed to use a lot of very linear, serious fonts - which was totally appropriate for the decade.  I don't think it was used much then, but the Harlow font I mentioned earlier has now become a font poster child of the 50s, due to its use in "diner culture" scenarios (think of all the Marilyn Monroe/Elvis/James Dean stuff you see for sale and you'll know what I mean).  Personally, I think it's a lazy choice for font, considering that the time period it's supposed to portray was two years, tops.  But it's immediately recognizable, so it's used often.

When people talk of "The Sixties", they're usually generalizing about the last three years of the decade (1967-69) and they'll use the most psychedelic font they can find.  I'm going to do my own generalizing here - for me, the Seventies were all about Cooper Black.

I'm trying to visualize a typical Eighties font, and I can't.  Maybe just plain old Helvetica?  It seemed to be everywhere.  The Stencil font seemed to be used quite a bit as well.  Someone help me out.  :D

Then we get to the Nineties.  Sorry to say, when I think of the Nineties I think of Comic Sans.  I can't help it! It was everywhere.  I'm going to admit something shameful - I liked it when it first came out.  I know there's a lot of backlash of this poor font (there are even whole Web sites devoted to the hatred of it) but for a short time it served its purpose.  Thirty or forty years from now future hipsters will enjoy it ironically.

Because of the Internet, design in the last 15 years or so has exploded.  It seems to me that there are more fonts than ever and there exists a perfect font for any project.  I love the time we're living in!

Check out these fantastic typeface specimen books - see what I mean about awesome design?  I got these from Ebay and there's a great array of them.  The gentleman from whom they were purchased is a font geek as well - far more advanced than I, to be sure!  They're loaded with cool images and fun articles for designers (but non-designers [like me!] can appreciate them too).

I've used typeface specimens in my art work, too!  Using text is a fun way to add some depth.  The specimen is pretty straightforward in this ATC I created:

And a little more subtle in this collage that I made for my sis and brother in-law of their home (used as the white trim):

Here's to more great font creations in the future!  I wonder how the 'Teens are going to be remembered?  :D


  1. Two fonts that remind of the 80s are Neon and Bitwise. My current favorite font is Trajan Pro. It makes such pretty, professional looking titles and headers.

  2. NEON!!! Of course, Amy - that's perfect! Thanks for helping me out! :D

    I really like the "clean" fonts too, like Trebuchet and Verdana. You're right - they do look professional and will outlast any fad. :D